Ask most American baseball fans who Tuffy Rhodes is, and you'll get one of two answers: (1) "Who?" or (2) "He was that guy who hit three homers off of Doc Gooden on Opening Day in 1994." That big game against the Mets was something of a millstone for Rhodes, as he has told several people that his dingerrific performance caused him to try to become the home run hitter he wasn't, which led to a truncated Major League career.
Which is somewhat ironic in that, over the weekend Rhodes became the 12th player in Japanese professional baseball to hit 450 home runs:
Rhodes hit a solo homer in the fourth inning Sunday for his 450th, then added a three-run shot in the fifth and a two-run homer in the eighth to lead the Orix Buffaloes to an 11-3 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters . . . The 40-year-old leads all active players in Japanese baseball with 452 home runs. Tomoaki Kanemoto of the Hanshin Tigers is next with 429. Sadaharu Oh holds the record for most home runs in Japan with 868.
Rhodes has long held the gaijin records for most career home runs and RBI in NPB. He also holds the NPB records for most career ejections. Famously, Rhodes was prevented from breaking the Japanese single season home run record in 2001 when he was openly and obviously pitched around so that a foreigner wouldn't supplant Sadaharu Oh at the top of the records book. Since then, however, Rhodes has essentially been adopted as a quasi-native player, having been granted free agency and having his presence on Japanese rosters no longer count against the foreigner quota imposed by the league.
Former Expo Warren Cromartie's wrote a great book about his time playing Japanese baseball in the early to mid-80s called "Slugging it out in Japan." I have this feeling that Tuffy Rhodes might have a pretty interesting book in him as well. In the meantime, to read much more about Rhodes and his accomplishments, go here.